Date of Award


Degree Type




First Advisor

Wei, Robert

Subject Headings

Mass spectrometry, Toxins -- Analysis, Common sunflower -- Toxicology, Hydrocarbons -- Toxicology, Mass spectrometry, Liquid chromatography, Gas chromatography, Proteomics, Helianthus annuus


There are a wide array of sciences at our disposal to further our understanding of the roles of toxins in the environment and their effects on living organisms. Of these disciplines, the field of mass spectrometry offers a powerful analytical means to identify compounds in varying and complex sample media. The presence of altered expressions of biomolecules upon exposure to toxins, the effects that these toxins may have on biomolecule structure and the identity of toxins in the sample all can be determined by mass spectrometry. In this study mass spectrometric analysis has been applied to environmental toxicological problems. First, the altered protein expression under various metal stress in Helianthus annuus (dwarf sunflower), a proven hyperaccumulator of toxic metals was analyzed by this research. Second, a model was developed for mass spectrometrically determining the location and structural effects that another class of environmental toxins, poly aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) can have on proteins. Third, the presence of PAHs in environmental samples taken from Lake Bolgoda and Lake Beira, Sri Lanka, was analyzed by mass spectrometry to determine the types, relative concentrations and potential sources of these toxins. Th e work has demonstrated the versatility and effectiveness of the methodology, discovering novel protein expression in H. annuus upon metal exposure, pinpointing site mediated adductions reactions on protein structure, and the qualitative and quantitative determination of toxins in environmental samples

Included in

Chemistry Commons